The Hot Seat: Jaddan Comerford, UNFD Director

Published in The Music Network

 

It’s been a particularly busy start to the year for yourself and the company. What’s been going on?
We’ve taken Boomtown Records and Staple Management and put them together. We’ve brought together eight staff, and added four more. And we’re now providing full-service under the one brand, UNFD.

What’s the reasoning behind the new structure?
I just want to simplify things. I want to strategically align our business and our artists. The position we’re in, and the deals we’re able to do coming at it from a management point of view, it allows us to be much more flexible. We’re seeing right now 99% of major labels saying the line ‘we must have ancillary rights’. For us at management, that’s not an issue at all. We’re already managing those rights for the artists under our management agreements. We’re looking at what the major labels are trying to do and coming at it from a different angle and essentially making it artist-friendly.

You’ve just come off the inaugural No Sleep ‘Til festival tour. How did it perform?
It was kind of like wrestling a bear; it was huge. But it went unbelievably well. All the numbers were really strong, the turnouts were great, the reviews were fantastic. It was an amazing learning experience for us as a company moving up a level, as far as our knowledge, our experience and our networks.

How were sales?
We sold over 40,000 tickets nationally, which exceeded what we were forecasting. Sales were excellent. You don’t start something like that with huge ambitions. We started very small, and we want to allow it to grow. We wanted to give the punters a really good experience, and I think from 90% of the reviews that’s exactly what we did.

Can you co-exist with Soundwave?
Sure, there’s always room. There’s enough bands out there for everyone. There’s no need to fight. There’s plenty of room for everyone to exist.

It’s a really tough market though, right? That’s what most festival promoters are saying.
Because it’s been our first year it’s hard for us to say we felt it. All we felt was a great response. We learned a lot.

Will you be coming back?
Most likely. There’s a lot more to learn, and a lot to discuss. But yes, it will return in some way, shape or form,

Last year you also launched the creative agency ONE: Meaning Communicated Differently, and electronic music agency Archery Club. What were the outcomes of those new units?
They’ve both been fantastic. Archery Club brought in Dayna Young, formerly at Jam Agency. That allowed us to move into a completely new space, into the electronic world with DJs and live [club] acts. That’s been a great business move but it’s also been a great learning experience and it’s another network of people for us. With ONE, we brought in Jai Al-Attas, who originally ran Below Par Records, a very similar label to Boomtown Records. So the two of us coming together made a lot of sense. Both of those relationships really showed what the Staple Group is all about. It’s about finding good people who we believe in and signing people in a way that we’d sign an artist. And setting up an infrastructure around that person and an idea they have, and helping them execute it.

You’re only 26. Are you a regular guy? Do you have beers with your mates at night, and kick the footie around on a weekend?
Yes, sure. I play golf, I exercise. Obviously I work a lot, but I’m not completely consumed by the whole thing. There’s definitely a balance in what I do.

The record biz is down, the live biz is apparently near saturation. What do you see as the trends for the year ahead?
I’ve really been enjoying listening to Triple J of late, because there’s so much good music out there right now. And I don’t think that’s going to slow down, it’s going to continue. But it’s also going to be a year of change. People that are working hard, doing what they’re doing and placing the best people around them and being creative, they’re the ones who are going to come out on top. We’ll definitely continue to evolve and be dynamic and react to what happens. I can’t tell you exactly what that is, and even if I did I probably wouldn’t tell you because it would be our secret. But I’ve never been more excited about the business I’m in than right now.

 

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